October 27, 2014
Dear Members and Coworkers,
A great many of you have just returned home from attendance at one of the sites for the annual Feast of Tabernacles. Having traveled to five of those meetings this year, I know that attendance was good and morale among the membership high. Everything was going beautifully, as we spent the last day of the Feast enjoying the inspiring beauty of the Lake Tahoe landscape, looking forward to the final service and fellowship of the Last Great Day.
But a nearly frantic call came in from my son Michael at 6:00 a.m., informing me that my Mother, Mrs. Shirley Armstrong was in the midst of a life-ending emergency. Guilt and grief swept over me as I hastily threw my luggage together and started over the mountain to Reno to catch an emergency flight home.
Having delayed the decision about whether to leave my Mom home (in the care of my brother David, home-care professionals and visiting nurses) until the last minute, seeing that she was in an established steady routine and stable, now I felt like I had made a huge mistake by leaving her at all. We’ve all thanked God that we, my brother Matthew, Michael and Melody, Sonja (Mom’s only granddaughter) and her husband Matt, were all able to arrive in time to be at Mom’s bedside to love on her and pray for her hours before she expired peacefully at 3:17 a.m. Friday, October 17.
Since we put word out that Mom had taken a turn for the worse back in the middle of August, we had an outpouring of prayers and concern from people far and wide. God certainly was merciful to our sweet Mom and grandmother in that, while suffering from weakness, she did not have any chronic or severe pains. When she got back to her bed, she rested comfortably and slept soundly. We all spoke to her by phone during the Feast, and she seemed to be doing even better than before we left. So we are also very thankful that she had some pretty good days, ate and slept well during her last week.
Her funeral, officiated by her brother-in-law David Antion, was a beautiful and fitting tribute to honor her and reflect on the wonderful, caring and helpful life she lived. Her influence and personal contributions were absolutely instrumental in the founding and continuity of the Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association and the Intercontinental Church of God. We’re all somewhat shaken and numb with her loss.
It forces us to deal now with the reality of her death and the question, what happens next? As for us, we know it is imperative that we carry on in God’s church and with the work that is our commission just as she directed after the passing of my Dad, Garner Ted Armstrong.
Death, even though it is inevitable, is something most people can never quite grasp. Part of the problem is the mainstream Christian teaching about the immortality of the soul, and the belief that the soul must be transported to heaven or hell immediately upon death. If that be the case, why would there be any need for resurrection? Mainstream religion pays lip service to the resurrection as well, seeing as how the Bible references it repeatedly, dedicating the whole chapter of II Corinthians 15 to the subject. But there’s just no way to resolve the conflict between the belief that people are already in heaven or hell, and yet will be resurrected from the dead at Christ’s coming.
Mom continued listening to recordings of Dad’s sermons nearly every day for years after he died, often playing one at her bedside to go to sleep on. I’m sure the one we’d like to offer you this month is one of them. It deals with that troublesome question, “what happens next after we die?”
My Dad dealt with this subject in a very personal way, comforting his dear unconverted sister Beverly who was dying of cancer and utterly confused about what her future held in the afterlife, if indeed such a thing existed. We’ve retitled the sermon he prepared on the subject What Happens Next?
As for us that remain, we know that Dad and Mom are in the profound sleep the Bible describes, as are all the others who preceded them, awaiting the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the resurrection. My Dad quotes many of the applicable Bible references in his message and makes it as clear as can be, just as he did for his sister Beverly when she was in such emotional quandary before she died. As painful and horribly sad as it is to lose someone who loved us so much and we loved so much, it is a wonderful blessing that we don’t have to grieve as do others, in confusion and despair.
Mainstream Christianity seemingly just cannot come to grips with the Truth. And that is that we worship an all-powerful God Who is logical, merciful and practical. My Mom worshiped Him with all that she was, and there is no doubt that her fight is finished and her future secure.
Thank you for the outpouring of cards, letters and phone calls. Mom was kind and attentive to everyone, and her death has touched a great many who will miss her graceful presence. We miss her terribly, but know that we must honor her by continuing in God’s Work as she would have expected.
It is a little bit difficult in this time of mourning, to direct our concentration back to the lawless arrogance that is destroying our God-given heritage, and the hideous inhumane violence that’s being committed in the name of religion. But the new 21st Century WATCH should be in all your hands by now, if not, give us a call and we’ll continue to supply them while they last.
There is still a great Work to be done. You only have to take a look at our sin-sick society and the direction of our beloved nation to know that’s a fact. Thank you all for your personal efforts and your commitment to the Truth and to God’s Laws.